This past week has been one of the most intense that I ever seen in my years of analyzing Massachusetts politics. Lets re-visit this ongoing train wreck:
Reacting to Lt. Gov. candidate's Paul Loscocco's switch (defection) to the Baker camp along with other top operatives, Tim Cahill in addition to publicly calling this a "backroom deal" filed a lawsuit against his former allies last week. The suit alleges that they had divulged confidential material to Baker from Cahill's campaign. In reaction Cahill's former chief consultant, John Weaver is counter-charging that the Massachusetts State Lottery (run by Cahill as the sitting State Treasurer) is running ads designed to boost Cahill's standing which runs afoul of campaign laws.
In a further twist, on Friday Loscocco alleged collusion between Cahill's and Governor Patrick's media people to coordinate negative attack ads on the Baker campaign. Thus far the allegations are unsubstantiated.
OK, my head is spinning too! Conventional wisdom has been stood on its head and it is hard to determine right now how all of this affects the eventual outcome, 24 days hence. Who knows what next week will bring as allegations and counter-charges are likely to continue flying.
As for the two candidates who have any business thinking that they can win it is certainly a distraction at best and a crippling blow at worst for Baker. This sucks the oxygen out of his message of reform and lower taxes as he has to react to Cahill's broadsides. As I predicted last week, Cahill now appears to be concentrating on playing a spoiler and seems to be singularly focused on preventing Baker from winning.
Governor Patrick thus far has remained above this fray and is benefiting as seeming to be above this destructive Baker-Cahill battle which will not endear either of them to increasingly disgruntled and cynical electorate. The danger for Patrick is that if any documentation comes to light that there was any coordination between his campaign and Cahill's that it may result in political rigor mortis for the already unpopular incumbent. His strategy rests on the anti-Patrick vote (around 55% to 60%) being split.
What happens here remains to be seen. I still think the physics of this campaign continue to favor Patrick. Rasmussen should have new polling out this week which will establish any new trends. When it is published there will be some idea of what affects the last couple of weeks have yielded.